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Focus on: Fender P-Bass Guitar

Focus on: Fender P-Bass Guitar

Looking at the legend of the Fender P-Bass Guitar

The Fender P-Bass is one of those iconic musical instruments that is unmistakable in form, and there’s a good reason for that too. Imagine back in the 1950’s, a time when there were no electric bass guitars and all low-end revellers only had the upright bass. So, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of transporting a double bass then you’ll understand why when Leo Fender came along in 1951 with his patented Fender P-Bass it was a big hit.

It’s a Fender P-Bass but not as we know it, Jim

The original Fender P-Bass was modelled on the Fender Telecaster, the only main difference being the double cutaway body. This was refined further with the addition of contoured edges in the mid-50s. A whole host of additions were included in further upgrades to resemble the newly released Stratocaster in 1957. Around that same time Fender introduced the new Precision split-coil pickup that defines the Fender Precision Bass sound.

Fender Precision Bass options: which is right for me?

There are lots of varieties of P-Basses on the market, and deciding which one it right for you seems a pretty big challenge. So we’ll take a look at some of the different options available to help you.

Fender Standard P Bass

The Fender Standard P-Bass is the instrument of choice for many professional musicians where attack and tonal versatility matter. Steve Harris from Iron Maiden talks about the richness in bottom end that you can only get with a P-Bass. There’s no wonder then that the instrument of choice for metal and punk rockers.

Take for instance Matt Freeman from Rancid, one of the most celebrated bassists for the 1990s. His love of the Fender Precision Bass stems from the freedom that this bass gave to rock and roll players. Highly playable C type necks and growling pickup arrangement gives a whole heap of tonal possibilities. Dial off the bass tone and play with a pick for fast transient punk rock attack or roll on some bottom end for reggae grooves.

The Fender Original 50s Precision is the crème de la crème of Fender Precision bass guitars that harks back to the early days of production. In terms of audio, expect lots of bottom end thump as a result of the 58s vintage pickup. Add a thick ‘C’ style maple neck for that classic snappy P-Bass tone. What’s really cool about this bass is they’ve kept all the vintage features that made these basses so great then added some modern elements such as the improved fretboard radius to make it as playable as possible.

In addition this bass comes with a Nitro finish, so as the bass gets used it will age with you as the thinners wear away to reveal the wood beneath. But it’s not all about looks, the nitro thinners allow the wood to breath and resonate, which is a massive plus over modern gloss finished guitars.

Oh yeah, did we mention it comes with a vintage-style hardshell case.

Fender American Elite Precision Bass Guitar

The Fender American Elite Precision Bass Guitar isn’t your average P-Bass guitar. It comes from a galaxy far, far away and is very different from the 1950s style. Instead Fender have made some adjustments which make this bass guitar super fast to play such as a slimline neck in the D profile which is makes the neck consistent from head to heel. In addition the deep double-cutaway makes it easy to hit the upper-register.

If you’ve ever played a heavier bass made from wood such as ash then you know when you’re playing out live for a long time the last thing you want is a heavy piece of wood hanging over your shoulders. Alder, a Fender favourite is perfect for the job, being a lightweight tonewood.

What you will notice from this bass is that it features a totally different pickup configuration from the standard P-Bass design with a PJ pattern. This means you can dial in any tone you want, from a smooth jazz tone to pounding aggression.

Squier Classic Vibe 70s Precision bass

Last but certainly not least is the super inexpensive Fender Squier Classic Vibe 70’s Precision Bass which is a new addition to Squier’s range since 2014 when the rebuilt their range for exceptional results. This bass includes a few design changes which stays true to the 70s design, but has a few details changed to make it as affordable as possible. Most notably is the use of basswood which is a relatively lightweight tonewood making best use of the power to tone ratio.

It’s hard to get across how much fun it is to play a P-Bass, especially if you’re hammering out face-smashing riffs. Both slick and punchy, it provides bags of tone that settles right in the middle of the mix, providing a musical glue that effortlessly binds tracks together.

About The Author

Chris Corfield

Journalist, PR and multimedia specialist. Write professionally on subjects ranging from musical instruments to industrial technology.